The Bill Hillman Military Tribute Series
F/L Lawrence John Adams

#14 EFTS Portage La Prairie June 1941

Portage La Prairie Hangar Fire

ADAMS, F/L Lawrence John (J7439) - Senior Instructors Course No. 13
TN 2869 ~ 21-7-43


LIVES LIVED ~ Friday, Dec 17, 2004
Lawrence John Adams 
By the Adams family
Entrepreneur, entertainer, beloved Dad and Grandpa. Born in Winnipeg, March 7, 1917.
Died in Halifax, July 11, of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, aged 87.

In April, Lawrie, or L. J. as he was fondly called, organized another hugely entertaining closing event for his Florida condo association. Then, amid laughter and grateful appreciation for all he had done, he retired from the board of directors and the putting, poker and bridge committees that he ran. At the age of 87, he felt "his batteries were running down." And if he couldn't give a task 150 per cent, it was time to pass the torch. It was how he lived his life.

Even as a child growing up in Winnipeg, L. J. was a born organizer and leader. His brother Ed tells of the penny carnivals they concocted as youngsters. Friends and neighbours marveled at the games they created, and rewarded them with scarce pennies, nickels and dimes.

Fiercely competitive as teenagers, they were avid sailors on Lake Winnipeg, and after a long losing streak, they finally won the Scotch Cup. True to their generous nature, and since the prize was a bottle of Scotch and they were underage, they happily gave away all their winnings, much to their Dad's chagrin.

L. J.'s generosity, however, was also tempered by his Scottish aversion to needless waste or lavish spending, ingrained from experiencing the Dirty Thirties. He once took the entire family out for a celebratory dinner to one of Montreal's finest restaurants. Then, when the bill came, he was astonished only at the seemingly exorbitant price of one dessert. "Who ordered the strawberries?" he exclaimed.

He negotiated a high-school education into a great career. He distinguished himself in the RCAF as a first-rate pilot and became a flight instructor, then squadron leader in Dauphin, Man., during the Second World War. After the war he joined Trans-Canada Airlines (now Air Canada) and with his outstanding managerial talents, swiftly rose through the ranks.

In 1958, he became president of Avis Rent-A-Car Canada in Montreal, and retired in 1978 as chairman of the board. As president of the Canadian Tourist Association, he led its transformation into the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.

An avid golfer and member of the Beaconsfield Golf Club in Pointe-Claire, Que., he had four holes-in-one, on four different courses, always on the 17th hole. He was able to score his age well into his eighties.

Together with Irene, his wife of 63 years, he traveled the globe, dined with the Queen, loved to play cards, loved to dance, loved to sing. He loved to cook and entertain friends and family -- he had seven set menus. His favourite book was the dictionary, and he polished off the daily crossword in no time. To him it was proof that his brain was as sharp as ever.

But above all, his proudest achievement was his family -- his three children, seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. The death of his grandson Ben, and two near-death medical emergencies with his son Dave, were grim reminders of what we have to be thankful for.

To his family, L. J. left the gift of caring, of choosing to be positive and upbeat, of finding something good and working through a problem, even in the face of the most difficult circumstances. He never regretted any of his life's experiences. "I haven't had a good life -- I've had a magnificent life!" he would exclaim with a trademark twinkle in his eyes.

The evening of July 11 the sky turned a particularly beautiful shade of blue, orange, pink, indigo. Coincidentally, five Harvard aircraft flew over Lake Ontario. Stars twinkled, fireflies danced. So long, Grandpa. We love you.

Obituary ~ The Halifax Herald Limited ~ Tuesday, July 13, 2004
ADAMS, L.J. "Lawrie"
ADAMS, L.J. "Lawrie" - Passed away peacefully at home in Halifax on July 11, 2004, at the age of 87, after a brief illness. He spent his last days, as he lived, in good humor and with his family. He leaves his wife of 63 years, Irene; son, Brian (Dawn); grandsons, Joseph, Halifax, and Ben (deceased); daughter, Lorene (Dan Mackie), Ontario; son, David; five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. A son of a railroad engineer in Winnipeg, Man., L.J. negotiated - as he was one to do - a high school education into a great career. He distinguished himself as an RCAF flight instructor and squadron leader during the Second World War, mastering 24 different types of aircraft. After the war he pursued his outstanding managerial talents with Trans Canada Airlines (Air Canada), working in Winnipeg, New York City, Vancouver, and Montreal. Later, he became president of Avis Rent-a-Car of Canada, president of the Tourist Association of Canada, finally retiring from Avis as chairman of the board. Not content to sit around, he began developing real estate in Florida. L.J. loved music, demonstrating his talents playing the harmonica and singing in a barbershop quartet. His prowess on the golf course was legend, being able to score his age well into his 80s. He had four holes-in-one at four different courses, all on the 17th green. An outstanding cook, L.J. loved to entertain, especially in the presence of the family. At the family condominium in Florida, L.J. continued to entertain and manage many resident social activities. We feel such sorrow at his passing, such joy to have known and loved him. L.J. did not wish a funeral, but asked all to raise a toast at the 19th hole.

compiled for the Air Force Association of Canada by Hugh A. Halliday

ADAMS, F/L Lawrence John (J7439)
Commended for Valuable Services - No.10 SFTS - Award effective 14 November 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 2684/44 dated 15 December 1944.  Enlisted in Winnipeg, 9 January 1941.  Trained at No.2 ITS (graduated 29 April 1941), No.14 EFTS (graduated 3 July 1941), and No.11 SFTS (graduated 11 September 1941).

This officer, for the past two and a half years, has executed his flying instructional duties with exceptional zeal.  He is an outstanding pilot and has contributed much to the high standard of pilots graduating from this school.

From the Brian Adams Collection

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